Strength Performance Network

Some Basic (Mostly Obvious) Questions

I received this email the other day. I believe this sums many of the issues we face in athletic development today:

"I recently attended a sports specific conference not a personal trainer type of one. Left disappointed. Conference presenters and attendees were primarily college and professional coaches not personal trainers. But, I ended up getting two days of hearing that bilateral squatting is bad for the back and that step ups cause knee pain (presenter), "we have everyone power clean" (presenter and attendees), we use the FMS (presenter and MANY attendees) and one presenter, in particular, was worshipped by many. I left disappointed. I felt like I just attended a personal trainer type conference! One attendee when asked what is the first thing he does with a new athlete said "I take them through the FMS." We also got to go through stations standing on BOSU balls, foam rolling, using the Core X, using some type of TRX band, etc. It was basically a personal trainer/boot camp circuit. Waste of time to me.”

There are so many obvious questions that no one seems willing to ask. Maybe they are not so obvious. It seems we have arrived at a total monkey see, monkey do stage in the athletic development profession. If one guru says something then everyone are like a bunch of bobble head dolls quickly nodding their heads in affirmation without even stopping to think or question.

These are my questions based on what I am seeing and hearing. Here goes:

Why does everyone have to power clean? Aren’t there any viable alternatives?

Why not back squat?

With more emphasis on so-called “corrective exercise” why do we have more injuries than ever before?

Why movement prep what is wrong with warm-up?

What does the functional movement screen really tell you?

Is the body fundamentally symmetric?

I ask these questions not to be provocative or argumentative but to get legitimate answers, not the party line answers and platitudes. Why are you doing what you are doing? Are you doing it because it is what everyone else is doing? Is what you are doing best for your athletes? Does it fit the sport demands and the athlete’s level of development and training age? Folks there are years of experience by many people, not just myself, that lead to this questions. All you young coaches out there take a step back and look in mirror and ask yourself  - why? Ask yourself where is this information coming from? What are they trying to sell? Does it really work or you doing it because some "expert" told you it would work. Think critically don’t just change the flavor of the Kool-Aid or buy the next DVD.

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Comment by Bing Fu on June 8, 2011 at 9:11am
I agree.. Most of my background has admittedly come from former strength coaches that were themselves heavily influenced by Olympic lifting and Strength training, therefore the core of my programs are based on these ideas. Along the way I have seen a variety of different exercise philosophies come and go and I generally have incorporated the elements that I have been given a good understanding of and that I feel work. However, just because something has the hype and support much like many other fads doesn't necessarily mean that I will use it. I have to logically believe that it has some merit and does work in order for it to be given space in a program.
Comment by Keith D. Swift on May 26, 2011 at 6:12pm
Its about time !!! Great post. As a young coach, sometimes  its hard to go aginst status quo.  It drives me crazy that the industry is quick to accept what one "guru" says. God gave everyone a brain and I put my pants on one leg at a time just like Mike Boyle, Grey Cooke, and etc. Not to discredit what they say. They have good points but I learned that long ago that everyone believes and swears by different things in ths business and they all can find studies and data to back up their position on an issue. I say do what works for you! By the way, LONG LIVE THE BACK SQUAT!!!!
Comment by Ron Thomson on May 26, 2011 at 5:48pm
I agree with Vern.  We have been in the field for many years and this point is very true.  The comment of monkey see, monkey do is perfect for the on going fad that is going strong right now in the S/C profession. I understand what vern was talking about at the conference, I to was there and feel much the same way.  It was a very dull conference and topics were weak.  The younger coaches need to find their way and seek out the information to do their jobs and not be such sheep.  Think before you drink the kool aid and see what it really is you are going to buy into. What is happening now in the field is just a new catch phase that is a come around goes around period.  The need to do the core lifts, get the athletes strong , powerful , agile, fast is still and always will be the norm.  Not what is the most up and coming gimmick to jump on the band wagon with.  Good Luck
Comment by Nick Honzik on May 26, 2011 at 9:50am
I think too many times people eliminate or frown heavily on certain movements (like back squat and step ups) to make their job easier or lessen respnsibility and then everyone else falls in line.  A couple coaches have injuries with squat and all of a sudden squat is the enemy.  It is a slippery slope when we start eliminating movments because of difficulty or inconvenience.  Next thing you know, we will be training teams in padded rooms, using only tai chi.  Maybe instead of demonizing squats, the coaches should take responsibility.  Bottom line is if someone gets hurt in your weight room that is your responsibility, not the exercise's.  Try slowing the progession and coaching more vigorously better technique.  9 times out of 10, if someone gets injured it is because they were doing something incorrectly and we did not catch it.  If we do our job - coach good form, put safety on a pedastool, use proper progression, develop young bodies properly, and place resistance near the end of our list - injuries will be few and far between.  Is someone going to stand up and say "hey baseball, catchers can sit in a squatting position because the angle of the knee is less than 90 degrees."  Or better yet, what about all the professional lifters and countless other weightroom warriors that have not experienced these injuries and have been doing these same movements for decades?  Not to sound hostile, but it almost seems like a cop out at times to blame a movement.
Comment by John Weatherly on May 26, 2011 at 7:58am
Yeah, terms like movement prep sound a lot better for marketing/sales than just saying warm-up.  In regard to the FMS, in one of our talks some time ago now, Dr. Andy Fry said there wasn't any good data to support the FMS.
Comment by Justin Giger on May 25, 2011 at 8:20pm
Great post.  I'd like to comment on the FMS.  I recently worked for a company (won't mention which one) that lived and died by the results of the FMS.  Having absolutely no previous experience with the FMS, I had the opportunity to learn how to administer it and actually take the assessment myself.  A group of us coaches perfomed the test repeatedly for practice.  The problem is, I scored a whopping 14 on the very first FMS assessment that was given to me.  According to the guidelines, this score indicates that I am at a significant risk for injury if I did not perform the necessary "corrective exercises" to remedy my deficiencies.  However, over the course of practicing the FMS several times over the next 15 mintues, my score steadily improved from a 14 to a 16, then eventually to an 18.  Within those 15 minutes, I hadn't done one single stretch, had done nothing to increase my range of motion, no balance training, etc. yet my score improved by a dramatic 4 points.  Essentially, I went from a "risk of significant injury" to "favorable" by practicing the test a few times.  The fact is, I got better at the FMS in a matter of minutes simply because I had rehearsed the specific motor tasks of the assessment rather than by any increase of ROM or control.  I learned the requirements of the tests and I got better- simple motor skill acquisition.  Because of this I failed to jump on the FMS bandwagon unlike the other coaches I was with.  What's worse is when I brought this up to the FMS "expert" I was ostracized for having a thought process that was outside the norm or worse,  that didn't follow corporate policy.  Since then, I've had an ill feeling to the FMS, depsite the fact that I still could find some use in it.
Comment by Malcolm Goodridge on May 25, 2011 at 5:21pm
As a young coach, I couldn't agree with this post more. Nice work.

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